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How to Find the Right Training Center for You

By  Jun 4, 2008

Topics: Certification

Instructor-led training (ILT) is no small investment. A typical five-day technical training course can run upwards of $3,000 or more. If you are searching for a computer training center to help you attain your IT certification/job skill goals, then you should read this article and heed its suggestions.

If you already work in the IT industry and your department has the liquid funds, then perhaps you have no choice in which training center you undergo your training. What the boss says goes, and all of that.

However, if you are funding your computer education yourself, then you can and should perform as much preliminary research as possible to ensure that you get maximum return on investment (ROI) for your hard-earned money, time, and effort.

Suggestion #1: Understand that Training Centers are All About "The Bottom Line"

Whether a computer training center is a franchise operation like ExecuTrain or New Horizons, or is a vocational school like ITT Technical Institute or High Tech Institute, training centers are fundamentally for-profit businesses.

The training course is the deliverable, and you as a prospective student represent the grease that turns the cogs of the training machine (sorry about the graphic simile...I guess I'm inspired in that direction today).

Your goal is to find a training center that is as student-centered as possible. Unfortunately, accomplishing this goal can be difficult, for a goodly percentage of computer training centers are managed by salespeople and not by dedicated trainers. After all, we trainers train, not sell.

Nevertheless, understanding the profit motive behind most training centers gives you an advantage. You will be less likely to fall into traditional sales tactics like the upsell and the "bait and switch."

Perform Google searches on training centers you are interested in and read up on what people are saying. Do everything you can to track down former students and even employees of these training centers to glean as much insider information as possible. You won't regret performing the additional research, believe me.

Suggestion #2: Don't 'Settle' For a Bad Salesperson

In the computer training industry, some shops are more dedicated to educating their sales staff about IT than others. No kidding--you might find yourself speaking to a salesperson who has little to no earthly idea about the certification track(s) you are interested in pursuing.

The motif for these poorly managed training centers is "Get the student's butt in as many classes as possible, collect on their accounts immediately, and then move on to the next, bigger, prospect."

If you feel that you are being led down a proverbial rabbit hole by a training center sales person, then assertively request that the sales manager assign you to another account executive. If the training center refuses to honor your request, then leave immediately and find another center.

Inflexibility is a sure sign that the center is profit-centered and not student-centered.

Suggestion #3: Speak to Trainers

When you enroll in ILT courses, you spend most of your time with the trainer. Therefore, you should have at least a passing familiarity with these fine people (if I do say so myself, being a trainer).

Ask your salesperson to introduce you to at least two trainers who specialize in the IT track(s) of your preference. Generating a dialog with these trainers will help you attain the following goals:

1. You can evaluate how "student-centered" the instructor is. Although there is a small chance that a brusque instructor is brusque because he or she is simply having a bad day, the more likely scenario is that he or she isn't as passionate about their job as they should be.

2. You can gain additional insight on your training/certification goals. Dollars to donuts, the trainer will know far more about the courseware and certification tracks than will the sales agent. Capitalize on this truth and mine the instructor for as much information as is polite and respectful to do.

3. You can vet what the trainer tells you against what the sales person tells you. If you notice a discrepancy, follow up on it. Wide variances between what the trainers say and the salespeople say denotes a training center with poor intercommunication, and this creates a hassle for students in almost every case.

I hope that these suggestions were helpful for you. Please feel free to leave a comment or to send me your questions via e-mail.

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